New findings indicate that farming in the Yangtze Basin existed as early as 4,000 years ago. Excavation in the Xiezi Area of Hubei Province yielded a total of 402 cultural relics, including carbonized rice.
Stone tools, pottery, bronze, jade and porcelain were unearthed, as well as a number of spinning wheels, drop spindles made of clay and other textile tools. There were also stone mounds and smelting relics such as slag. A variety of grains and seeds were found, and experts believe there may be carbonized wheat among the plant findings at the site.
The discovery effort took about four months, according to a report on Sept. 12 in a Chutian newspaper. The Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology announced the findings. The relics were determined to be from the Neolithic Era or New Stone Age to the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600–1050 B.C.) and Western Zhou Dynasty (ca. 1046–771 B.C.).
The Xiezi Area is known for its geographic shape: It looks like a crab. Approximately 7.4 acres (30,000 sq. meters) in size, it is surrounded by ponds and swamps with farms distributed around the area.
The combination of the relics that were found and their stratigraphic age provides valuable information about the diet structure, production methods, and living conditions of the inhabitants of the area during the time of the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties.
Archeological team leader, Luo Yunbin explained that there had been speculation in the past about edible rice production in the Yangtze Basin, but the new findings provide solid physical evidence that there was agricultural development in that area during ancient times.